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Archive for January, 2009

But yet how shall I see my faith? I must come down to love again, and thence to the works of love, ere I can see my faith. Not always, but sometimes, thou shalt feel thy faith without the outward deed; as in great adversity and persecution, when the devil assaulteth thee with desperation, and layeth thy sins before thee, and would bear thee in hand that God had cast thee away, and left thee succourless, for thy sins’ sake: then cometh faith forth with her shield, and turneth back again the darts of the devil, and answereth: ‘Nay; for Jesus is the Son of God, yea, and my very God and my very Lord, and hath taken away my sins and all damnation.’

– William Tyndale, (1494?–1536), translator of the Bible, Exposition of 1 John 4:16–18

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O God, make speed to save us.

We have sinned, O Lord, we have sinned, spare our sins, and save us; thou who guidedst Noah over the flood waves, hear us; who with thy word recalledst Jonah from the abyss; deliver us; who stretchedst forth thy hand to Peter as he sank, help us, O Christ.

Son of God, thou didst the marvellous things of the Lord with our fathers, be favourable in our days also; Stretch forth thy hand from on high.

The Stowe Missal (or Sacramentary) is a liturgy dating from 6th or 7th Century Ireland. It is one of the oldest Celtic liturgies known.

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St. John counsels us that during the Night of the Senses to be patient and loving enough to wait for God to justify us rather than seeking self justification. He gives us this guide:

To reach satisfaction in all
desire its possession in nothing

To come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing

To arrive at being all
desire to be nothing

To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing

To come to the pleasure you have not
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not

To come to the knowledge you have not
you must go by a way in which you know not.

To come to the possession you have not
you must go by a way in which you possess not.

To come to be what you are not
you must go by a way in which you are not.

When you turn toward something
you cease to cast yourself upon the all.

For to go from all to the all
you must deny yourself of all in all.

And when you come to the possession of the all
you must possess it without wanting anything.

Because if you desire to have something in all
your treasure in God is not purely your all.

by St. John of the Cross

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New Year’s Eve. My wife’s cousin joined us for the festivities as he has for the past few years. He is a single guy in his mid thirties. A great guy I’ve come to love dearly and value as a part of my family. Over the years of knowing him, our conversations have been frank and honest. Often we dicuss issues of faith and understanding. He’s a seeker more than a thinker – though he certainly engages life with his mind. He’s a playwright and one of the most phenomenal actors I’ve ever known. We always discuss the latest movies or
Last night he came with a question he wanted us to talk about before other guests arrived. He saw a this clip of  Billy Graham on Larry King Live where St. Billy refuses to say that people of other faiths are condemned to eternal punishment. The Rev Graham says it is not his calling to preach God’s judgment on other faiths. It is his calling to preach God’s love as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Gospel.

For my friend, raised in a small, rural Southern Baptist community, this went against everything he had ever known. He asked me what I thought about Rev Graham’s words. After being distracted by the kids (which thankfully bought me a few minutes to gather my thoughts), I responded that it’s important to understand what Billy is saying. I don’t think he is advocating for a religuous buffet experience where it’s ok to take the little bits of Bhudism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity that we like. That’s the American consumeristic-individualistic response. What I do think is that we are in no position of authority to write the final word for a person. God sees a human heart in its desire to know him and be known be him.

However, I do think Jesus’ claims were uniquely Divine. He is the Son of God. No one comes to the Father except through him. In whatever wideness there is in the mercy of God, I believe Jesus and his cross are a part of that mercy.

For example:

  • If a woman in India, Pakistan, Iran, or Egypt is desperately seeking for God, how will she “believe in him of whom [she] has never heard? And how [is she] to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom 10:14).  If she has never heard the Gospel, how can she be held accountable by it?
  • Why does St. Paul rail against false teachers? Because they really do lead people astray (Gal 1:8).
  • How can genuine faith be actualized by grasping complex intellectual assertions. If this is not so, what am I to make of the developmentally disabled men I see every day? Though they may ‘hear’ the Gospel, how can anyone but the Living God be certain they have received it.

All this is to say, I’m concerned that Jesus be uniquely who is he is without diminishing the fact that he sits on the throne at the center of the cosmos, making all things new (Rev 21). However, I cannot reconcile God’s great goodness and love with the items above. I am not a universalist. But it seems that if God is patient and does not desire any to perish, then we should be that way too, trusting in his mercy for ourselves and for others (2 Peter 3:9). This means being on about the business we need to be on about – loving God and loving our neighbors.

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